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Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Bipartisan angst mounts over administration's border policy

July 12, 2018

House Republicans joined Democrats on a key spending panel Wednesday to signal growing frustration with the Trump administration’s muddled efforts to reunify migrant children.

The House Appropriations Committee during a marathon budget session unanimously adopted a proposal levying steep financial penalties on HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s office if he fails to explain how he plans to reunify the more than 2,000 migrant children under his agency’s care with their parents.

The panel also endorsed language prohibiting officials from separating migrant siblings, and banning the forced medication of kids housed by the health agency and its contractors.

A separate amendment that also garnered unanimous support would mandate an inspector general’s report on the administration’s role in family separation and reunification. Those proposals would all be added to the House’s bill funding health, labor and education agencies for fiscal 2019.

“This manufactured crisis is, in my view, government-sanctioned child abuse,” said Connecticut Democrat Rosa DeLauro, who has been among the most vocal lawmakers in calling for greater oversight of the reunification efforts. “We are abdicating our responsibility, our moral responsibility, on this issue.”

But Republicans balked at other measures that would apply more pressure on the administration while throwing their weight behind a controversial amendment overriding judicial precedent and allowing long-term detention of migrant children at the border.

That amendment would permit detention of asylum-seeking families at the border for longer than 20 days — a maneuver that would revive parts of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” border policy and defy a decades-old settlement agreement, yet conform with President Donald Trump’s executive order aimed at ending family separations.

“This is a vexing problem that several administrations have wrestled with,” said Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, saying the amendment is aimed at keeping families together during immigration proceedings.

Democrats criticized the amendment for cribbing from a hard-line immigration bill that failed to pass the House last month, arguing it would codify indefinite detention of asylum seekers.

“The solution to family separation is not jailing families together,” said Rep. Barbara Lee of California. “These policies are a disgrace and another stain on this country.”

A federal judge on Monday rejected a Trump administration request to overturn the legal agreement prohibiting long-term detention of migrants. And the measure is unlikely to survive in the Senate, where the 60-vote threshold requires support from some Democrats.

Senate appropriators have already passed their own spending bill free of such controversial amendments.

Yet while avoiding direct criticism of Trump, Republicans on the panel largely signed off on Democrats’ condemnations of the administration’s decision to separate migrant families as a policy.

“This is Congress’ chance to say, ‘No, we’re not going to stand for that,’” Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin said while proposing language stating congressional opposition to splitting up migrant families and urging their immediate reunification.

“I do agree very much with the sentiment,” Cole said before the committee voiced unanimous support. “This is not a policy we should be pursuing.”

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